Updated: Feb 24
In this blog series, we let our LDNers share their stories about anything health, fitness and sports related. It's a great way to learn from our patients and share thoughts on popular topics amongst our community. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to contribute!
Finn Bartram, 28
Copy Writer, London
My fitness journey began at age 7 when I joined a local rugby team. Since then I’ve participated in martial arts, swimming, athletics, football, squash, tennis, table tennis, climbing and weightlifting. Also put in a fair few hours cutting shapes in clubs and festivals around the world, although not sure that counts.
In short, fitness and sports are an integral part of my life. Even on holiday I find it difficult to sit still for more than a week. Instead, it’s an opportunity to run some new trails or swim in the sea- a luxury not afforded living in London. There are always new things to try. Something I always find awesome is the sheer number of ways we’ve developed as humans to challenge ourselves, compete and have fun. Fun fact: there are an estimated 8000 sports in the world, Lumberjack WC 2020 anyone?
Now I’m 28, so in sporting terms I’ve reached my prime. It’s all downhill from here, or so they say. My stepdad keeps telling me to stop playing football, the highly physical 7-a-side format specifically. This is after a string of injuries including a severely sprained ankle and a torn calf muscle (thanks to the LDN team for patching me up after that one). Despite being a man who until not too long ago was hurtling down mountains and shattering clavicles left, right and centre, he says I’m too old for that now.
Getting old is a somewhat scary prospect. This meme made me laugh the other day:
Unfortunately, injuries are going to get more frequent and recovery times longer. A friend of mine has quit football entirely because of incessant injuries.
One thing I wish I’d paid more attention to is rehabilitation and self-preservation. Although exercising is inherently good, without a dedicated medical team behind you to administer ultra-modern treatments like oxygen tents and erm, leeches, you kind of muddle through injuries on your own. "It’s not hurting that much anymore, time to get back on the pitch, it’ll probably be okay."
The big reveal: taking tailored professional advice is infinitely better. Not only do you get back on your feet quicker, it’s beneficial going forward as you can pick up tips to remain injury-free and even improve at your activity. Whether it’s the result of an injury or you just want to maximise your efforts, getting sports physio is an investment in yourself that will pay dividends in the long run.
Next time I’m going to don a flat cap, cardigan, and high waisted trousers and talk about the kind of sports that are recommended for old age.
What does the Physio say?
Nic, Sports & MSK Physiotherapist
Keep playing 7 a side, Finn! Although no amount of physical activity can stop the biological aging process, there is strong evidence that exercise is the only way to minimize the physiological effects of our otherwise sedentary lifestyles. There are also lots of psychological and cognitive benefits accruing from regular exercise participation.
Of course, we know that the very old and frail elderly experience sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle) as a result of disuse, disease, and often malnutrition. But even then, research shows that even older adults into their ninth decade can experience increases in muscle strength and associated improvements in function following just an 8 week strength training programme.
But Finn's right - we need to be aware of our own limitations so we can avoid injuries. It’s not just the passage of decades that distinguishes the current you from your 14-year-old counterpart. We get a lot busier as we age, and we exercise a lot less: less time, less mileage, less intensity... Worse, our non-exercising hours are mostly spent sitting at a desk, whereas 15 years ago you would've been running through fields of wheat or spent the whole day on your bike. As intense as our 6 hours a week of training can be, the rest of our week is spent doing a lot less (physically-speaking). Which does make us weaker and thus more prone to injuries...
Bit of a chicken and egg situation - are we taking longer to recover because we're getting older and weaker, or are we getting weaker because we have less time to exercise, and thus feel older? The latter, we think!
Be like Finn, think about self-preservation and get tailored, professional advice. What is the best way to keep fit for the sports and activities you want to do while still managing your current job / family duties / busy lifestyle? How can you maximise the time you spend exercising to maintain your fitness levels while preventing injuries? All those answers will need to be tailored to you, your strength & fitness levels and your goals. Get in touch with your Physio and work them all out!